Category Archives: History

How Dim Were the Dark Ages?

By Daniel Peterson (sic et non): Here’s a passage from The Victory of Reason:  How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, a brilliant and provocative book by Rodney Stark. Dr. Stark, now in his mid-eighties, is a famous sociologist of … Continue reading

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Lost at a Tibetan Monastery (A Personal Exercise in Syncretism)

[circa 1995] As I walked up the main road through the Labrang Monastery, I had trouble finding the main square and the tour office.  On my first try, I passed through an ornate gate and into a large courtyard surrounded … Continue reading

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Europe’s Two Oldest Lighthouses

Tower of Hercules, Galacia, Spain The first stone of what is now known as the Tower of Hercules, was laid just after the time of Christ.  During the 1st century A.D., the lighthouse guided Roman ships as they travelled north during … Continue reading

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Irish Monks in the Early Middle Ages

At the Irish National Stud and Gardens, located near Dublin, is an beautifully landscaped area dedicated to Irish monks of the early Middle Ages.  The St. Fiachra’s Garden (information from garden signs): . . . seeks to capture the inspiration … Continue reading

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Gemeskut (Shadoof) in Central Romania

While traveling in central Romania, we ran across a narrow valley with shallow groundwater.  Several of the farms along the roadway had gemeskuts.  They are being used for stockwatering. The gemeskut has a history that goes back to ancient Egypt … Continue reading

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Thomas Crapper and the Word “Crap”

By Mark Forsyth (edited), excerpt from The Etymologicon What is the real relationship between Thomas Crapper and the word “crap” (or “crapper”)? Thomas Crapper was born in Yorkshire in 1836.  In 1853, a year after Edward Jennings’ patented his version of … Continue reading

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Sir John Harington: Inventor of the Flush Toilet

Sir John Harington (baptized 4 August 1560 – 20 November 1612), of Kelston, but baptized in London, was an English courtier, author, and translator popularly known as the inventor of the flush toilet.  He became a prominent member of Queen Elizabeth … Continue reading

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